By on January 10, 2013

Nissan will make good on its $1.4 billion DOE loan, and finally start building the Leaf EV right here in America. In addition to the Leafs going off the assembly line, Nissan will also build the battery packs at a separate plant next door. Nissan hasn’t set production targets for the Smyrna, Tennessee plant, though Leaf sales have been flat over the last year, despite projections of them doubling.

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22 Comments on “Made In America Nissan Leaf Now In Production...”

  • avatar

    Will we see a price drop now that the strong yen is no longer an issue?

    Because that’s what it’s going to take to get sales up.

    I vividly remember my college economics class – we had to bring colored pencils to class in order to take accurate notes, as the professor drew all of the curves in different colors of chalk (and he talked with a spray, so everybody quickly learned not to sit in the front three rows).

    • 0 avatar

      Pricing is TBD but my guess is at the new, stripper S model will come in at an even $30k prior to tax credits. There are other changes besides the S model and the line’s production in Smyrna, of course:

      – 6 kW Level 2 charger (6.6 kW in, 6.0 kW out)
      – heat pump, which should significantly decrease cold weather range loss
      – black leather and 17″s on the SL trim
      – option of the previously-seen-on-Infinitis Around View Monitor
      – marginally increased range via aero and regeneration, marginally increased cargo volume

      All in all I think these changes will add up to more sales, even at the same price points (as per my guess) for the SV and SL models.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I don’t think that the savings from relocating production from Japan to TN are enough to goose sales signicantly. It’s a good start, but battery prices are still too high. There would be a big market for cars like this in the $16K-$18K price range for use as a second car. There is not much of a market at $30+K.

    • 0 avatar

      You know what, I think there would be a heck of a market for these at $4,999. (So long as nav and HDMI came standard.) How come nobody ever listens to us interwebs expertz?

      Kidding aside – a good friend of mine just bought a Leaf. He’s a geek, and understands that the idea of a “payback” from these cars is gloss-rag hogwash. (What’s the payback on a regular car…? Or on an upgraded sound system? Exactly. So why are we concerned about it with EVs and hybrids?)

      The thing is, he has a small solar array on his roof, and buys exclusively wind/solar energy. To him the cost (no more than the Bimmer he replaced) was entirely worth it. He’s not saving the world, but he’s a geek who now uses virtually no fossil fuels. It makes him happy – and that’s plenty payback enough.

      • 0 avatar
        Polar Bear

        If your geek friend places a value on driving electric for the sake of driving electric, good for him. I guess that’s what marketing people call an early adopter. For most folks, the thrill of electric must be balanced against range anxiety and a break even time compared with a conventional car of 9 years (Source Feb 2012).

      • 0 avatar

        The problem with calculating a break-even time is that there are a lot more variables than fuel-cost alone – and these are rarely, if ever, taken into account in articles aimed at people in waiting rooms and airport gates.

        I remember an article saying that a Prius would barely break even against a Focus. The gist was that by “only” saving ~$700 a year on gas, it would take 8 years to make up the price differential. (Nevermind that they’re different classes of cars…) If they’d accounted for real-world factors, like resale value and maintenance costs, the Prius would be ahead as soon as its driven off the lot.

  • avatar

    If it wasn`t for the last quarter of 2012 the Leaf would have had less sales in 2012 than 2011. Looking at, the period from April to September the 2012 were way down on 2011. Then sales jump in the last quarter by 100% – was this channel stuffing? Or a real surge in sales at a time of stable gas prices.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      They started pushing more $$ into leasing to get more attractive monthly payments in the last part of the year.

      • 0 avatar

        A good lease deal and decent trade-in is what got me into my Leaf in September. It’s an excellent commuter car so far, but the lease puts the risk on Nissan if the technology disappoints at the end of 3 years.

  • avatar

    I still think the plural of Leaf should be Leaves.

    Also, instead of “Leafs going off the assembly line,” I would have much rather read: “Leaf leaves plant.”

  • avatar

    I was reading on another Blog about the Volt’s Battery, the service place now has to determine what part of the Battery is dead, to do that the Service Center needs to purchase a expensive piece of testing equiptment, will all the Service Centers that look after Volts be buying that? In all these type of Cars, the Battery is the weak link!

    • 0 avatar

      In ANY car the battery is the weak link :-) At least in these the large propulsion pack is warrantied for what, 8yrs, 100k miles and even more in states like CA due to the EPA and or CARB rules? (part of the emissions warranty). I remember when the Prius was first released, for at least five years the average anti-hybrid person in CA was spouting off that the battery needed to be replaced every 2 years. Ok, whatever, it would be covered under warranty for way longer than most people keep a car. Obviously that line of crap was quickly proven untrue.

    • 0 avatar

      Gentle Ted, there’s a story about the Volt battery repair tool cost here:

      This is the only class of vehicle I’d consider leasing precisely because I’d prefer not to own a five- or six-year old EV or PHEV that has dead or nearly dead batteries. Plus, the fuel savings from my commute would pretty much pay the lease payment. But if the local dealerships all refuse to service a Volt after I lease one, that’s going to leave a bad taste in my mouth, for sure.

      Haven’t heard any such issues out of Nissan dealers. Yet.

  • avatar

    dont think prius are so hard on batt, since it will re-charge soon as engine ran, leafs EV only charge up when physically plugs into an outlet.

  • avatar

    Finally Nissan has started the production of their much awaited EV cars.The car has been a subject of attention since Nissan had declared that it would introduce auto parking mechanisms using 4 sensory cameras along with its other features.Nissan had been in a lot of hassle to launch this car but seems like they have finally made their breakthrough.

  • avatar

    This is exactly what the Leaf need, more production capability!!!

    *face palm*

  • avatar
    Polar Bear

    The massive media coverage of this car shows that publicity alone can’t sell a product. The Leaf is too little too soon. Double the range and cut the price in half and the car will sell in numbers worthy of the hype – which should happen in about 20 years.

    • 0 avatar

      Battey fans make me laugh. They believe in things that are simply … not… true.

      Twice the range at half the price… that’s good one.. the long and short of it…when it comes to batteries… is this:
      Batteries are a mature product… batteries are not an immature technology just waiting for more research money (and time). Ever since Thomas Edison, 105 years ago handed Mr. Mallory the alkaline battery and then the next month Mr. Edison made an apology to the 25 EV mfgrs who had waited 3 years for “the better battery”. In his apology Mr. Edison admitted that batteries were good for flashlights and even for submarines… but that was about it. As far as being good for cars Mr. Edison finally admitted that try as he did… and even with the great battery breakthrus he did make, that batteries are not going to get “much better”, and that the 50% of cars in the USA that were electric would soon loose market share in favor of gasoline or ethanol powered vehicles. This is why Mr. Edison made his famous act of encouraging Henry Ford (at the company banquet of the Detroit Edison Electric Power Plant) to “keep at it” in his gasoline engine car. In Mr. Edison’s famous quote, he told Mr. Ford that batteries would always be a bigger problem than the EV makers would ever admit. Let’s not forget that in 1906, when this conversation took place, the Baker Electric car (Henry Ford’s wife’s favorite car, by 1913 when it was the only car she would drive) had a range of 70 miles. Not all that much different from todays Evs with todays advanced batteries… is it?
      My point? It’s simple; any and all claims that batteries will be able to double their ability to hold Kwhs… and do it at half the cost… is pure fantasy. A123 just went bankrupt… how can this be? Maybe because Mr. Edison was right?
      After working in the mines during and after college I know one thing about basic minerals… the very components in all batteries are basic minerals: … and that when more of a mineral is needed, lower quality ores must be tapped. Tapping lower quality ore costs more…not less… to process… hence; when more of a basic mineral is needed by the marketplace… the cost goes up, not down.(!)
      My point? Simply that economies of scale apply to many things in business, lower costs if more efficient assembly lines are set up.
      lower costs because of more sales with less advertising (per unit sold)… and there are a few other examples that result in lower costs when higher volumes are reached. BUT. when a full half of the cost of an item (like a battery) is in fact the materials used… and when these basic materieals costs go up instead of down when more of the material is needed, then the idea that larger volumes will naturally result in lower costs is simply not true.
      Battery makers… since the time Thomas Edison… when he invented his “betterBattery” have always made claims of being able to make a battery having more storage at a lower cost… they always promise that this battery will be available “in a few years”… and as we all know… this promise is made every few years…and then again after a few more years. A123 is the latest casualty of this false belief.
      Edison heard the argument in his day… we are hearing it again today… we will again hear it fifty years from now. Batteries can not get much better than they are now… it’s the same as gasoline can’t be made to hold much more BTU’s than it can hold now.Same thing for batteries. A sad state of affairs, but its true.

      • 0 avatar

        The timing was excellent for my reading phxmotor’s observations.
        I have been listening to a series of lectures on research into Nanotechnology. The most recent explained that using a silicon scaffolding to support the Lithium ions will lead to a storage capacity about 10 times (per pound) that of the current graphite system. Problem is that the influx of ions expands the volume of the silicon significantly. Just like a sidewalk that has been frozen and heated repeatedly, the expansion of the silicon leads to deterioration of the scaffolding. Nano tech to the rescue! Researchers at Stanford are working on producing the scaffolding in fine strands. The strands are attached to the electical contact similar to bristles on a brush, giving flexibility to expand and contract. If successful (big “if”), we could be looking at a big jump in range. Assume 5x capacity rather than 10. I own a Leaf (third car in the family). We get 50 freeway miles per 80% charge with a cushion. If that could be boosted to 250 miles, my wife’s range anxiety could be significantly calmed.

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